How High Will You Fly?

This is the question Seth Godin asks in his latest book, The Icarus Deception. As the Greek myth goes, a young Icarus is given a pair of wax wings by his inventor father Daedalus with the express instruction to not fly too close to the sun. Our hero, of course, immediately flies towards the sun, wherein the wax wings melt and poor Icarus plummets into the sea and drowns.

The moral of the story is to beware the sin of hubris. Never try to fly in the domain of the Gods. Know your place. Don’t make waves. Stay safe and fly under the radar.

But what Godin reminds us of is the lesser known part of the story: Daedalus’ warning to also not fly too low, so that the salt water wouldn’t ruin the wings.

So what is the point?

Through this book, Godin issues a world-wide call to creative arms. A challenge for everyone, everywhere to find the courage to treat your work like a form of art. To become an artist.

Yes, you read that right. You are an Artist. A maker of art.

But not art in the traditional sense as we typically think think of it. Not just paintings or sculptures or symphonies. But art as a force of creation, a way to connect emotionally human being to human being. The kinds of inventions, services, products, and interactions that spark the imagination and ignite the heart.

It’s about finding the strength deep down inside to push through the fear of rejection and ridicule, to birth something from our soul into existence. It’s about flying in the face the of the industrialist machine and charting your own course.

It’s about faith, courage, and love. Emotions and convictions so strong that we are willing to take blow after blow and continue to rise, continue to create, continue to ship.

It’s about using your unique gifts in only the way you can. And I truly believe every single person on this planet has at least one unique gift to share, or a way of expressing that gift that is unique to them alone. It’s about serving the planet.

I’m all about useful, concrete, day-to-day application. So here are some practical examples of how to bring an artistic sensibility to your work world:

1. The carpenter who spends an extra 10 minutes sanding the edge of a cabinet that no one will ever see, instead of calling it “good enough” and packing up for the day.

2. The nurse with the courage to question whether a prescribed treatment is really in the best interest of the patient.

3. The programmer who over-delivers and wows his client by adding a useful feature that wasn’t in the original spec.

4. The writer who stays true to her voice and delights a small but loyal following.

5. The exhausted mother who inspires her children by taking night classes.

This is the Art that Seth is talking about. It’s bold and rewarding.

Overall, I found the book truly inspiring. It is the perfect companion and followup to his other best-seller Linchpin: Are You Indispensable, which was my favorite read of 2012. And I highly recommend both to anyone.

By the way, this is not a book review, and I do not get any perks or swag from you clinking on any links. I simply love Seth’s message. I paid for this book myself and it was worth every penny. That said…

Make art. Be happy. Fly high.

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